Spurs @ Kings: 11/9/12
Coming off their first loss of the season, the San Antonio Spurs look to get back to winning against a team they've dominated in recent years.
The Sacramento Kings have won both of their home games, but they'll have a tall task trying to make it three in a row Friday night against a Spurs team that has won eight straight at Sleep Train Arena.
San Antonio (4-1) has had its way with the Kings (2-3) for the past six seasons, winning 19 of 21 meetings by an average of 8.9 points.
It's averaged 106.6 points during its winning streak in Sacramento, and has put up 119.0 points per game while shooting an astounding 56.5 percent in three wins there over the past two seasons.
After picking up back-to-back home wins for the first time since a three-game run March 16-20, though, the Kings are out to prove they're no longer a Western Conference doormat.
"It's a new year, a new team - we're not concerned about last year," Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said. "We're trying to change things around in Sacramento."
The Spurs aren't trying to do anything different to one of the league's most successful teams, yet their 4-0 start was a franchise first. They didn't come close to stretching their run to five, though, shooting a season-low 41.1 percent Wednesday in a 106-84 loss to the Clippers at Staples Center.
"They kicked our (rear end)," coach Gregg Popovich said. "We hung in there for a half, but after that I don't think we played with the same intensity that they did, and it showed."
San Antonio shot just 41.1 percent after hitting 48.8 percent during its unbeaten beginning, while the Kings' ability to knock down some open looks has gotten them back on track. Sacramento shot 37.5 percent during its 0-3 start, but it's hit 47.2 percent in its two victories.
The Kings shot 48.8 percent in Wednesday's 105-103 win over Detroit.
"When we started 0-3, it was a reminder for us to relax," said point guard Isaiah Thomas, who's scored 25 points in 42 minutes of Sacramento's two wins. "It's relax if you're playing, relax if you're not. It refers to everything we're doing as a team."
After averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in Sacramento's first two games, Cousins has turned it on with three consecutive double-doubles. He finished with 21 points and 11 boards in the Kings' 105-103 victory over Detroit on Wednesday.
Cousins averaged 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in the three meetings with San Antonio last season, while Thomas had a career-high 28 points and 10 assists in a 117-112 loss March 28.
Marcus Thornton, now coming off the bench, shot 49.0 percent and averaged 18.3 points in three starts against the Spurs last season.
San Antonio hasn't lost back-to-back road games in the regular season since Jan. 27 and 29, but it could have trouble Friday if Tony Parker continues to struggle. The four-time All-Star has scored a combined 10 points on 5 of 20 shooting in his last two games.
Manu Ginobili, who scored nine points on 2 of 8 shooting in 19 minutes in Los Angeles, continues to work his way back from a back injury that kept him out of the first two games.
Perhaps he'll fare better against the Kings. Ginobili has averaged 20.5 points and shot 61.7 percent in his last four games versus Sacramento.
One Spur who's had little trouble connecting is Danny Green, who's shooting 56.8 percent overall and has hit 12 of 22 (54.5) from 3-point range. Green, though, might have a tough time finding good looks against a Sacramento team that's defending the arc better than anyone (24.2).
Kings forward Thomas Robinson, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, was suspended for two games Thursday for elbowing Detroit's Jonas Jerebko in the neck.
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